How Meditation Can Help Improve Your Chronic Pain


Does Science Support Meditation for Pain Management?

In a word, yes. The Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program created by Jon Kabat-Zinn demonstrated remarkable benefits for reducing chronic pain and depression. I personally have found that this approach has helped me to reduce my anxiety, improve my quality of life, and manage my pain.

Researchers investigated the effect of MBSR programs for participants with mixed chronic pain conditions and the significance of at-home practice for chronic pain management. The study measured results in terms of bodily pain, quality of life, and psychological symptoms for each chronic pain condition (neck/back pain, arthritis, fibromyalgia, chronic headache, and two or more coexisting conditions). The researchers discovered that the degree of benefit of participating in mindfulness programs varied depending on the chronic pain condition, but that overall improvements were seen in almost every category.

Similar results were found in a study of the effects of participating in an MBSR course for people with fibromyalgia. Significantly, the researchers interviewed about half of the original participants from the mindfulness training group three years later and found sustained long-term benefits among those who continued their mindfulness practice.

Finally, many people with chronic pain experience anxiety and depression. Mindfulness meditation programs have been found to have “broad-spectrum anti-depressant and anti-anxiety effects and decrease general psychological distress” (Marchand, 2012).

How Can I Learn to Meditate?

Resources

Mindful (Jon Kabat-Zinn: Defining Mindfulness)

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On Being (S. Salzberg: The Fractal Moment)

Psychology and Psychosomatics (Grossman, P. et al.: Mindfulness Training as an Intervention for Fibromyalgia)

J Psychiatr Pract (Marchand, WR.: Mindfulness-based stress reduction, mindfulness-based cognitive therapy, and Zen meditation for depression, anxiety, pain, and psychological distress)

Journal of Psychosomatic Research (Rosenzweig, S. et al.: Mindfulness-based stress reduction for chronic pain conditions: Variation in treatment outcomes and role of home meditation practice)

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Katarina ZulakKatarina Zulak

Katarina Zulak is an ePatient blogger and health writer. Six years ago she was diagnosed with fibromyalgia. On her blog, she writes about learning to be skillfully well, even when living with a chronic condition. Katarina lives in Toronto, Canada with her husband and their cat Lily.

May 29, 2017
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